Why are migrants from Bharat so successful?

There are more than 14 million Bharat-born migrants settled around the world. Of those, just over 2 million reside in the United States, 1.2 million in Canada, and about 1 million in the United Kingdom.

The Pew Reseach Center1, Kauffman Foundation2, Stanford University3, UC Berkeley4 , Harvard University5, and others have showcased the success of Bharatiya entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and other tech hubs in the US. Bharat-origin entrepreneurs have been very successful in other regions and industries around the world as well.

In the US, Bharatiyas constitute just over one percent of the population. However, they own and operate more than 50% of the hotels, motels, and Subway and 7-Eleven franchises. To provide a perspective, the hotel industry room revenue alone in 2014 was over $142 Billion dollars.

People from Bharat are also saving and improving American lives. Bharatiyas own more than 50% of the independent pharmacies in the US. More than 10% of the physicians in the US reported ethnicity of Bharat. They have founded, on average, 14% of Silicon Valley companies since 2007, and 8% of engineering and technology companies in the US. In VC circles, having a co-founder from Bharat is considered an asset for funding. Most leading VC firms have a Bharatiya partner to tap into the Bharatiya talent network6.

The above-average statistics are consistent outside the US as well. Bharatiyas own 75% of the diamond businesses, including those in the precious-stone capital Antwerp. Reasonably enough, more than 90% of the world’s rough diamonds are cut and polished by Bharatiyas. In the mid-20th century, Bharatiyas constituted just over one percent of Uganda’s population and contributed more than 20% of the country’s GDP. After they were deported out of Uganda by dictator Idi Amin, they went on to create and own several businesses in United Kingdom. Bharatiyas had similar success stories in Burma, Kenya, South Africa, and Down Under (Australia).

Back home in the US, the median household income headed by an immigrant from Bharat was $103,000; compared to $48,000 for immigrant households and $53,000 for native-born households.

These successes are commendable in the light of ongoing immigration challenges. A documented, ‘legal’, immigrant from Bharat waits an average of 13 years to earn a Permanent Residency (Green Card).

As a Bharatiya entrepreneur and immigrant, I am obviously proud of the success of my fellow Bharatiyas. And intrigued. Intrigued enough to have done my doctoral research on the topic.

Most things being equal, what motivates, drives, and challenges us Bharatiyas more than others? Education, language skills, hard-working culture, values, diversity? Or is it something more sinister – difficulty in starting businesses in Bharat, corrupt bureaucracy in Bharat, something else?

Doctoral research is a doorway to a lifelong exploration on a topic about which you are truly passionate. I had a limited sample size and was only testing these hypotheses – I found Bharatiya immigrant entrepreneurs have a higher need for achievement, and higher education levels compared to natives. Not entirely revolutionary or eye opening, I know.

Free of school and Institutional Review Board restrictions around dissertations, I am looking into this topic from another perspective.

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1. Indian Americans-Pew Research Center
2. America’s New Immigrant Entrepreneurs-Kauffman Foundation
3. Vivek Wadhwa
4. Anna-Lee Saxenian
5. William Kerr
6. Marketplace.Org

About the Author

Nitin Bajaj
Nitin Bajaj is the founder of DesiPreneur.com, and the co-founder of #TheIndustryShow